Article by David Brown, Lift News
Provinces, Indigenous groups, municipalities, opposition parties, law enforcement, and others are calling on the federal government to delay its plans to legalize cannabis in Canada. However, the government says it has no intentions to delay from its intended target of July 2018.
Police say they need more time to train officers and come up with reliable drug-impaired driving testing equipment. Provinces and territories are saying they need more time to come up with rules for managing distribution and retail sales—both online and brick and mortar—and municipalities want more time to come up with rules to manage those retail stores and their locations, as well as address issues like home grown cannabis and public consumption.
Opposition parties in the House are calling the Liberals’ stated goal of having legislation and regulation in place by July 2018 a ‘rushed’ and ‘arbitrary’ deadline, saying the government is shutting down debate by implementing time allocation at second and third reading as well as report stage, ignoring concerns and pushing the legislation through.
To move the legislation forward through the House to the Senate, the government introduced time allocation earlier this past week to limit further debate at report stage and third reading of the bill. Opposition to the use of time allocation was opposed by all the NDP, Greens, Conservatives and the Bloc, but passed 170-130 because of a Liberal majority in the House. Editor’s note: C-45 passed third reading in the House on Monday, Nov 27 with 200 in support and 82 opposed.
The Liberals used time allocation in June of this year at second reading of the bill, as well, after more than two days of extended debate. The bill had, at the time of time allocation, already been debated for 31 hours in the House since being first introduced on April 13. It also spent more than 5 full days in the House Standing Committee on Health, which heard from over 100 witnesses.
“I have heard a lot of talk about delays from the other side, requests to delay this legislation further, and that we are rushing ahead so quickly. -Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, Liberal MP, Beaches—East York
While Conservatives focus their arguments against the ‘rush’ to legalize around concerns from law enforcement in dealing with drug-impaired driving and enforcement of new possession and cultivation and retail rules, some in the NDP have also said there is a need to delay legalization by as long as a year or more, to ‘get it right.’
One of the NDP’s lead voices on the legalization file, Health Critic Don Davies, says the party is still calling for immediate decriminalization of small, personal amounts of cannabis, but believes the government needs to take more time to consult with various stakeholders like licensed producers, dispensary owners, illicit growers, and others, and take the time to pass a better legalization bill.